Environmental campaigners have raised concern about Jacob Rees-Mogg being put in charge of energy policy after the Tory politician previously warned against “climate alarmism”.
Rees-Mogg was made business secretary on Tuesday as new prime minister Liz Truss appointed her cabinet. The job means he will be given the energy brief amid soaring household bills off the back of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He tweeted: “It is an honour to be appointed as the new secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy.
“I look forward to serving the prime minister and the country during the challenging times ahead.”
The hardline Brexiteer and Boris Johnson loyalist, who is a product of Eton and Trinity College, Oxford, started his working life as an investment banker.
In 2007, he co-founded asset management firm Somerset Capital Management with a group of colleagues.
The firm currently manages about £6.9 billion worth of assets for institutions, including pension funds, from its bases in London and Singapore.
In the past, Rees-Mogg has expressed concerns about “climate alarmism”, said humanity should adapt to, rather than mitigate, climate change, and warned that the drive to getting to net zero emissions is responsible for high energy prices.
He also said he wants his constituents to have cheap energy “rather more than I would like them to have windmills”.
Truss has agreed to the UK’s 2050 net zero targets but the new business secretary is also expected to help lead her plans to re-start fracking for shale gas in the UK.
After the announcement, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas tweeted: “OMG she’s only gone and done it.
“Liz Truss has put fossil fuel-loving, deregulation-obsessed Jacob Rees-Mogg in charge of both energy and climate crises – he is not a serious person and this is not a serious government.
“Can only hope he wakes up in time to recognise scale of emergency.”
Rebecca Newsom, head of politics for Greenpeace UK, said: “Rees-Mogg is the last person who should be in charge of the energy brief, at the worst possible moment.
“Rees-Mogg blamed ‘climate alarmism’ for high energy bills, pushing David Cameron to ‘cut the green crap’ like incentives for solar, wind and energy efficiency – which has added £150 to every energy bill. Appointing him to the brief now suggests the Tories have learned nothing from some years of energy policy incompetence.
“This will either be a massive own goal for Truss’s efforts to tackle the cost of living crisis or Rees-Mogg will have to do the steepest learning curve in history as he gets to grips with the issues facing our country.”